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About Khardung La

Khardung La (Khardung Passla means pass in Tibetan) is a mountain pass in the Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The local pronunciation is “Khardong La” or “Khardzong La” but, as with most names in Ladakh, the romanised spelling varies.

The pass on the Ladakh Range is north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. The Siachen Glacier lies part way up the latter valley. Built in 1976, it was opened to public motor vehicles in 1988. Maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, the pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier

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Khardung La (Khardung Passla means pass in Tibetan) is a mountain pass in the Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The local pronunciation is “Khardong La” or “Khardzong La” but, as with most names in Ladakh, the romanised spelling varies.

The pass on the Ladakh Range is north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. The Siachen Glacier lies part way up the latter valley. Built in 1976, it was opened to public motor vehicles in 1988. Maintained by the Border Roads Organisation, the pass is strategically important to India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier.

The elevation of Khardung La is 5,359 m (17,582 ft). Local summit signs and dozens of stores selling shirts in Leh incorrectly claim that its elevation is in the vicinity of 5,602 m (18,379 ft) and that it is the world’s highest motorable pass.

Khardong La is historically important as it lies on the major caravan route from Leh to Kashgar in Central Asia. About 10,000 horses and camels used to take the route annually, and a small population of Bactrian camels can still be seen at Hunder, in the area north of the pass. During World War II there was an attempt to transfer war material to China through this route.

Khardung La is 39 km by road from Leh. Earlier, the first 24 km, as far as the South Pullu check point, were paved. From there to the North Pullu checkpoint about 15 km beyond the pass the roadway was primarily loose rock, dirt, and occasional rivulets of snow melt. Now, all the way is properly paved. Road approaching Nubra Valley is very well maintained (except in a few places where washouts or falling rock occur). Hired vehicles (two- and four-wheel-drive), heavy trucks, and motorcycles regularly travel into the Nubra Valley, though special permits are required to be arranged for travellers.

The nearest sizable town is Leh. Leh is connected by road from Manali and Srinagar, and daily flights are operated from Delhi. From Leh, a daily bus service to Nubra Valley passes over Khardungla which may also be reached by a hired car with an experienced driver or by bike. The two bases on either side of Khardong La are North Pullu and South Pullu.An Inner Line Permit (ILP), which can be acquired at the District Commissioner’s office in Leh, is required for tourists (not needed for Jammu and Kashmir citizens). People are required to check in en route and must provide photocopies of the permits to be deposited at each checkpoint.

 

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